South Shields were knocked out of the League Cup by neighbours North Shields after paying the price for a poor start.
In front of a huge Mariners Park crowd of 1,349, the home side fell a goal behind within the first two minutes, and did not recover from there.
Within 34 minutes, it was 3-0, and that was a lead the Robins would not relinquish, despite a decent response from the hosts in the second half.
The result brought to an end the Mariners’ ambitions in the knockout competitions this season, and they must now concentrate on completing the job of winning Ebac Northern League Division Two.
Hopes were high at the start of the game, despite South Shields going into it without Julio Arca, Danny Carson, Scott Pocklington, Martyn Coleman and Wayne Phillips, and with a number of others, including Warren Byrne, Ben Riding and Lewis Teasdale, making their way back to fitness.
However, things quickly fell flat for the Mariners, who fell behind within two minutes when they failed to clear their lines, and a ball across the box from the visitors was controlled by Gareth Bainbridge, who touched it past Gareth Young before slotting home.
It was a struggle from there for the home side, and North Shields went close to a second when Ben Richardson curled a free-kick just over the bar.
The Robins weren’t kept out for much longer, though, and went 2-0 up as a ball from the left found its way to Marc Lancaster at the back post, and he made no mistake.
Bainbridge volleyed wide as the away team continued to dominate, and that play was rewarded with a third goal when a lofted ball over the top was brilliantly controlled by Dan Wilson, who had the time and space to pick his spot from close range.
Slowly, the Mariners began to assert themselves more on the game, and one decent opening led to a David Foley shot which he dragged wide.
Foley was heavily involved in most of their bright play going forward, and he had a low cross scrambled clear before getting in behind later in the half, only to be denied by a fine stop from away goalkeeper Chris Bannon.
The South Shields improvement continued into the second half, but the fear was that the damage had already been done.
Some decent chances did come and go after the break, though, the first of which came when Stephen Ramsey’s header was brilliantly tipped onto the bar by Bannon before being scrambled clear.
Just three minutes later, the woodwork was hit again when Robert Briggs’ free-kick struck a defender and then the post.
It felt that a home goal was on its way, but despite two strong penalty appeals and a decent chance for substitute Teasdale, North Shields weathered the storm.
The Mariners did hit the woodwork for a third time, with Michael Turner heading against the bar, and when a goalmouth scramble was cleared after that, it was clear it was not going to be the hosts’ night.
Substitute Byrne had two efforts saved, but the Robins could have wrapped it up at the other end, with Ryan McGorrigan denied by the post and Young doing well to keep out a shot from Lee Mason.
The one bright spot on the evening for South Shields was the news that Ryhope CW had lost 4-2 at home to Easington Colliery in Division Two.
That means the Mariners are eight points clear of the third-placed side, having played the same number of games, and six ahead of second-placed Billingham Synthonia, who have played two more matches.
With just the league to concentrate on now, Jon King’s side will hope to pick up maximum points at Thornaby on Saturday as they attempt to extend their lead at the top.
SOUTH SHIELDS: Young, Hassan (Riding 81), Grey, Hall (Byrne 53), Turner, Briggs, Smith, Scroggins (c), Ramsey, Foley, Sakr (Teasdale 61). Subs not used: Connor, Peter Kane.
WORDS: Daniel Prince. IMAGE: Peter Talbot.
Daryll Hall’s late header ensured South Shields’ remarkable run of wins went on as they beat Chester-le-Street 2-1 in the League Cup.
Hall nodded in 10 minutes before the end as the Mariners made it 16 victories in a row.
The match was watched by a superb crowd of 747 at Mariners Park, which was the club’s highest midweek attendance of the season.
And the Mariners thought they had the perfect start when Michael Turner rose highest to head home a corner from Julio Arca. However, the officials controversially ruled the goal out for a push.
Warren Byrne was also denied by the officials when he appeared to make a superb run before finishing with aplomb, but the offside flag was raised.
Shields had therefore suffered double frustration, but they almost finally broke the deadlock on 32 minutes when David Foley’s fizzed shot was parried by visiting goalkeeper Aiden Ames, and Byrne was just denied as he tried to slide in the rebound.
An effort from Wayne Phillips also went not far wide as the Mariners continued to press, while at the other end, Chester-le-Street were mainly restricted to half-chances and shots from distance.
When Phillips went on an impressive run and was fouled on the edge of the box five minutes before half-time, it appeared all set for an Arca special. However, the former Sunderland and Middlesbrough midfielder curled his free-kick narrowly over.
There was still time for Shields to create and miss another glorious opportunity before half-time when a tremendous ball from Arca found Barrie Smith on the right, and he wriggled his way past a number of players before skewing wide.
The Mariners looked bright after the break, too, and Smith had a cross excellently cut out before Leepaul Scroggins curled narrowly wide from distance.
The opportunities kept on coming, and a left-wing cross from Phillips was headed downwards and towards the corner by Arca, only for a fingertip save by Ames to deny him.
Byrne headed just over the bar from a Smith cross, but the Shields top scorer was not to be denied on 68 minutes.
Foley fired the ball into him in the box, and Byrne did the rest, controlling it before beating his man and hitting it coolly into the bottom of the net.
A snap shot from Foley soon after was kept out by Ames, and Shields were then stung on the counter-attack as the Cestrians levelled.
A superb through ball found Scott Heslop, and he dinked an effort home to restore parity and raise the prospect of extra-time.
However, as has been so often in the 16-match winning run, the Mariners found a way.
Ben Riding launched a long throw into the box from the right, and from 10 yards out, Hall sent a glancing header into the bottom corner as Shields were handed the advantage again.
They remained alert at the other end, with goalkeeper Scott Pocklington keeping out an effort from Michael Hepplewhite, but this time there was no way back for Chester-le-Street.
They survived a very strong penalty appeal in stoppage time as Foley went over in the box, but it was to matter little to the outcome as Shields booked their place in the next round of the competition.
SOUTH SHIELDS: Pocklington, Galpin, Turner, Hall, Riding, Arca, Smith (Wightman 87), Scroggins (c), Byrne (Ramsey 78), Foley, Phillips. Subs not used: Young, Briggs, Bulford.
Goals: Byrne (68), Hall (80).
Leepaul Scroggins headed the winner as South Shields advanced in the League Cup with a hard-fought 1-0 victory over Team Northumbria last night.
Scroggins struck two minutes before half-time as Shields saw off the Northern League Division Two leaders in front of a crowd of 351 at Mariners Park.
The Mariners played well without creating too many clear-cut opportunities as they restricted the attacking force of their visitors.
The game was watched by new signing Andrew Bulford, who joined from Dunston UTS – where he is the all-time leading goalscorer – on the day of the game.
The first real chance fell to Shields nine minutes before the break, but Robert Briggs was denied by a fine block.
Wayne Phillips also had an effort blocked, while Briggs and Ben Riding sent headers not far wide as the Mariners increased the pressure.
The deadlock was broken on 43 minutes when Phillips floated in a free-kick from deep on the right, and Riding sent a superb header back across goal for Scroggins, who headed in.
In the second half, Team Northumbria went close when Joel Bradley drilled narrowly wide, while at the other end, Alex Newton made an excellent save from a Briggs header.
Jonny Wightman sent an effort just past the post for the Mariners, and Briggs also had a shot deflected just wide as Shields looked to seal their passage into the next round.
The Mariners were rarely troubled, but Scott Pocklington did well to hold onto a header from David Dormand, and the hosts saw the game out.
Shields are back in action on Saturday at Mariners Park against the same opposition, this time in the league.
They will hope to move to within a point of their opponents at the top of the table.
SOUTH SHIELDS: Pocklington, Smith, Turner, Galpin, Riding, Briggs, Sakr, Scroggins (c), Byrne (Ramsey 61), Wightman, Phillips (Curry 67). Subs not used: Young, Thexton, Heptinstall.
Goals: Scroggins (43).